Retreat Information

This page contains all you need to know regarding your time at the Summer 2024 NWSSR! The important stuff is also being sent to you in emails. Please let us know if you have any questions!


Directions

The retreat is located an hour Northwest of Portland and the Columbia River basin at a lovely private arts farm called The Nest.

ADDRESS: 32180 Pittsburg Rd Saint Helens, OR  97051

Directions from North on I5: 

Take exit 36 for WA-432
Keep left to continue on Exit 36B, follow signs for Longview and merge onto WA-432 W
Take the exit toward 3rd Ave. Continue onto Industrial Way
Use the left 2 lanes to turn left onto WA-433 S/Oregon Way
Take the ramp onto US-30 E
After 19.8 miles, turn right onto Pittsburg Rd
After 3.7 miles continue/turn right onto Pittsburg Rd/Pittsburg-St Helens Rd
After 1.8 miles turn left onto a gravel driveway going down into the farm. Cross over a bridge to enter.

Directions from South on I5: 
Use the left 2 lanes to take exit 299B for I-405 N toward US-26 W
Continue onto I-405 N
Use the left 2 lanes to take exit 3 for US-30 W toward St. Helens
Continue onto US-30 W
After about 25 miles turn left onto Sykes Rd
After 1 mile, turn right onto Barr Ave
After .5 mile turn left onto Pittsburg Rd/Vernonia St Helens Rd
After 2.1 miles Stay/turn right onto Pittsburg Rd/Pittsburg-St Helens Rd
After 1.8 miles turn left onto a gravel driveway going down into the farm. Cross over a bridge to enter. 


Arrival and Departure Info

ARRIVAL

Gates open at 4pm on Wednesday, July 24th. We ask that you arrive between 4-7pm. PLEASE DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY FOR ANY REASON!

Dinner is at 5:30pm followed by opening circle and orientation. We ask you be on site by 6:45pm at the absolute latest. If you need to make arrangements for a late arrival please contact us. Make sure you get there in time for dinner! This opening dinner is a great way to settle in and connect with others.

It is imperative that you arrive on time on Wednesday. We are setting a very intentional container and It’s paramount that everyone be present for the beginning. We will be going over some important information and activities to set the stage for your whole experience. Please do yourself a favor: If you haven’t already, do what’s needed to get the time off so you can arrive on time.

For anyone who does end up late on Wednesday – please let us know as far in advance as you can so we can know when to expect you.

Drive over the bridge until you reach the first small parking lot. There you will be greeted by a parking attendant and directed to registration. There you will settle your accommodation arrangements and be directed to your space to park and camp. Among other surprises!

DEPARTURE
The retreat will end at 3:30pm on Sunday, July 28th. We ask that everyone be off the land by 4:30pm. Breakfast and Lunch will be served on Sunday.


Vehicles and Carpooling

We have limited space for cars and also wish to preserve as much of the ecosystem as possible. 

Help get more cars off the road and help others looking for a ride! If you can offer a ride, it will really help people out and reduce emissions! We have lots of people looking! It’s also a GREAT way to make a new friend before the event! To offer a ride or ask for a ride please visit our fancy google sheet CARPOOL PAGE.


Accommodations

Unless you have reserved a room, accommodations will be mostly camping in your own tents or RVs/trailers in our big camping field. So bring what you need to be comfortable.

Bathrooms will be porto-potties for anyone who is camping. We have two outdoor, all gender showers available which will be near the retreat house (about a 3 min walk from the main campground). There will also be multiple outdoor sinks with potable water and mirrors for washing and brushing.

We have a limited amount of private guest rooms and guest cabins available all which include full bedding. Anyone staying in the retreat house will also have limited access to shared bathrooms and showers (limited due to the amount of people using them). These rooms can be rented for an additional cost. First come first serve so sign up now if you want one. View photos on the accommodations page.


Volunteer

NWSSR runs smooth on volunteer power. For those of you that have offered to volunteer, thank you for helping to create an amazing Annual NW Songwriter Soiree Retreat!  We have a small list of specific volunteer jobs that can use your helping hands this weekend.  

If you want to help out and help make the magic happen, please go to our VOLUNTEER SIGN UP PAGE and add your name in the yellow boxes.   Our volunteer coordinator, Carolyn will be in touch with you! 

As a community we can all help the weekend run smooth by doing our part. Help us keep the space clean and nice by chipping in when you see something needed. Empower yourself and don’t wait to be asked. Keep tables clean, floors swept, decorate things. Your mother isn’t coming (unless you bring her – and even if you do, she’d rather be making music!) so we will need to clean up after ourselves.


Meals

Fully catered meals will be served 3X a day, plus snacks. This includes all food. Meals will be served buffet style, so you have a variety of options.

Personal Dishes:

Everyone will be responsible for bringing, washing and keeping track of their own plate, bowl, mug and flatware (spoons, forks, knives). Don’t forget to bring your own! All participants will also be asked to wash their own dishes in our dish washing station.


If you included your dietary preferences and restrictions in the intake form, it is being accounted for. If you have further concerns, please contact us.

Some light snacks AND a full coffee and tea bar will also be provided in the main area! If there are snacks you want for sure, we encourage you to bring some as well.


Schedule and Workshops

We have created an experience that balances focused time for learning and connecting with time for relaxing, writing and reflection. While full participation is encouraged, everything is optional and we encourage you to do what you need to have the best time possible! 

Each day will begin with free time early in the morning, followed by Yoga/movement and ecstatic dance on Sunday morning. We believe a healthy mind comes from a healthy body, and warming up your body can really open up the creative channels. If yoga class is not your thing, there will be other ways to wake up your body such as hiking around the beautiful grounds and woods or stretching on your own. 

Thursday, Friday and Saturday will consist of 2 workshop blocks which range from 1.5-2 hours each. You will have the option to choose from 4-6 different workshops offered in each block. Many of them will repeat if you can’t decide! 

We will offer times each day for the whole group to gather and connect in various ways, as well as chunks of free time for you to do your own thing! And of course we will have 3 catered meals provided for us each day!

To view the daily schedule and a comprehensive list of workshops, please CLICK HERE! Workshops are subject to change. They will be announced and posted at the retreat as well.


Soiree Music Sharing Guidelines

On Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night, we will be coming together for the “soiree” portion of the camp. This is our open mic style music sharing time. Each person will get to perform one song of original music.

The purpose of this night is to offer a safe, supportive and inspiring place for people to share in a listening environment that is really paying attention. This is THE BEST audience you’ll ever get! Emphasis is on creating a space where anything can happen, free from judgement or perfectionism. When those walls come down, the muse comes in! 

A few guidelines:

• The sharing is largely acoustic. However we will have a full sound system with guitar, bass and keyboard amps. If you want to use further amplified or electronic elements that please contact us first to talk about it!

• We will have a house guitar, piano, keyboard, and amp available for you to use

• Please limit your song to under 5 minutes

• We will be having a sign up sheet for each night, available on Thursday evening. We’ll explain more on the soiree portion at opening circle.

Please note, you will also be able to share your songs more informally around our all-night campfires jams!


After Hours Campfire

What better way to end each day than singing songs around a campfire?! The fire will burn from 9pm until we’re done. This is a more open, looser space where anyone can jam and offer songs. Anything goes! The fire will be lightly facilitated to help make the experience top notch for everyone. Sometimes the best magic happens in the wee hours – just make sure you get enough sleep! 


Connect on the Event Facebook Group

Please join our private Facebook Group ( you must register to get access) to connect to other participants, ask questions and get smaller updates and reminders! You received an invite for it.


What to Bring and Not to Bring!

WHAT TO BRING

  • Plates and cutlery for eating!
  • Instruments – ( as well as songbooks, music, recorders, tuner, batteries, strings, picks…) We provide a house guitar, piano and amps
  • Tent and camping gear
  • Bedding, sleeping bags, etc
  • Towel and toiletries ( yes bring a towel!)
  • Earplugs if you’re a light sleeper
  • Hot water bottle if you’re a cold sleeper
  • Clothing for cold, rainy, weather (It’s Oregon, you never know)
  • Notebook and pens for writing and workshops
  • Munchies
  • Yoga Mat for morning yoga
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Dress up clothes if you want to get fancy!
  • Light strings to decorate your tent or camping area (especially LED lights to save on electricity!)
  • Your personal camp chair for campfire and camp (we will have hay bales)

WHAT NOT TO BRING

  • Pets
  • Synths, drum kits, bagpipes etc unless you check w/ us first. Feel free to check! (Keyboards are very welcome! They turn down better than the acoustic models. We will have 1-2 keyboards available. 
  • Cold and flu symptoms 

Photos and Video

UPDATED: Upon arrival, you will be asked to sign a photo and video waiver, giving the Songwriter Soiree permission to take photos and video for documentary and marketing purposes.

Taking photos and video of people performing is allowed, unless someone explicitly requests otherwise. Please request permission before taking photos or video of anyone off-stage. Please do not post videos online without permission. If anything is found posted w/ out permission it will be asked to be removed.

Anyone who does not wish to have their photo or video taken may opt out at registration and be given a sticker on their name tag which indicates this. You may also request at any time to not be in video or photos.

Our camp is a true “retreat” — a haven where the competitive rules of the daily world are suspended, and we’re free to try our musical wings with no need to be self-conscious or worry about impressing an audience. The retreat isn’t a completely “safe” place. It’s a “safe enough” place for people to take some pretty big risks – showing their love for music with hearts wide open. We do invite people to take those risks. And we want to keep camp “safe enough” that people take us up on that invitation. We recognize that we are in an age of taking and sharing media, and many people especially appreciate it. That said, sometimes when a camera is present, it can inhibit this. Please be aware of how this might affect others, and if you are unsure, ask.


Cell Phone Use

We invite you to fully participate this weekend. Please put your phone and any other devices on Airport Mode as soon as you arrive, and keep it there any time you’re not actively using it!  If you really can’t turn it off for the weekend, please set your phone to silent. We dare you to leave your phone in your car or cabin. Our lives are speeding up to ever more urgent, frantic levels. The uninterrupted time we have together becomes more and more of a contrast and ever more precious. Cell phones have become a huge disruption to both our sense of rest and relaxation, and to our connections with one another. Please, if you do have to use your cell phone, leave buildings and any people you may be with, while you talk on the phone. Thanks!


Alcohol Use

Alcohol is not permitted. Anyone notably inebriated will be asked to leave the event. Please be aware of the feelings of some of your fellow campers who are not comfortable with the use of alcohol. There are folks among us who are in recovery. Thank you.


Smoking

Smoking is allowed ONLY at a designated smoking area, which is located in near the entrance (look for sign).


Keep Camp Healthy and Covid Protocols

Thank you for your cooperation in keeping our camp healthy!

Are you sick, or starting to get sick? Please don’t bring your germs to camp. Pretend we’re a tiny cruise ship on a musical voyage. If you wake up with symptoms the morning of camp, please do not come to camp. We will make arrangements with you regarding your registration.

We recognize that at this point Covid (or the flu) is a known factor in attending any event. Based on our camp being mostly outside, general trends for events like ours, and the declaration of the public health emergency being over by the CDC, we are no longer requiring testing for COVID in order to attend.

That said, COVID is still around and we still ask for your cooperation in keeping our camp healthy.

If you start to experience mild symptoms, please put on an KN95 mask immediately, stay outside, and take a rapid antigen test.  If you did not bring one with you, please find a staff member to help you take a test kit.  If you test positive, you will be asked to pack up and depart immediately.  If you do not feel well enough to do so or need support in navigating your departure, please let us know.  
 
Anyone not able to attend or having to leave camp due to COVID will be offered credit towards future events on a case by case basis. 
 
Pre-Camp Precautions: Please help us reduce the risk of all germs at camp by exercising particular caution in your exposures to potentially contagious people prior to camp! 

MASKING AND DISTANCING
We will allow all participants personal choice about masking and social distancing. You are free to mask or distance, but please be aware that most participants will likely not be masking or social distancing. If you are uncomfortable with this, we understand, and we ask that you stay home and we will discuss your registration arrangements.

WASH YOUR HANDS–OFTEN—especially right before meals. OK? Now let’s go play music….!


Safer Space Policy

The organizers of the NW Songwriter Soiree Retreat recognizes that oppression is real and that some of us (Especially white people) reap unequal benefits from a legacy of privilege. 

We believe that anytime people gather and hold space, it is a powerful opportunity to acknowledge and shift the ways oppressive systems harm and disconnect us from ourselves, from each other, and from the earth. We see it as a necessity in order for growth and transformation to take place.

We recognize that there are people in bodies which are marginalized. We aspire to co-create a space that is as safe as possible for all people, with the understanding that a fully safe space is impossible in our world. People of all races, sizes, ages, cultural backgrounds, gender identities, sexual orientations, trauma backgrounds, and religions are welcome. Intentional words and actions that promote racism, misogyny, hatred, bigotry, supremacy, sizeism, transphobia, ageism, or divisiveness will not be tolerated and will constitute expulsion from the retreat. 


Cancellation Policy

Cancellation Policy: 
We offer a 75% refund up to one month before the event. No refunds given after a month prior. If the retreat is cancelled by the Soiree or the venue due to safety concerns or an act of nature, we will offer 90% of your credit to any future event (expires after one year). The fees help us cover admin costs, thank you for your understanding.